Roads crumble after council cuts

QUESTIONS are today being asked about why roads in Ipswich are being left to crumble despite tens of millions being available for work across the county.

QUESTIONS are today being asked about why roads in Ipswich are being left to crumble despite tens of millions being available for work across the county.

As our pictures show, Woodbridge Road, a key town centre route, is gradually going to pot, with the top surface making way for ruts and bumps.

Other routes across the town are suffering similar problems although town and county leaders, as well as opposition politicians appear to be passing the buck as to who's to blame.

Paul West, responsible for transport at Ipswich's Tory-led borough council, said the town is not getting enough cash from the purse-string holders, Suffolk County Council.

This year the money available for work on roads in the town has dropped by more than a third, from £1.66million to £1.1million despite the county's overall budget increasing by £400,000 to £39.2million.

Mr West conceded that the council is in a “make do and mend” situation and is having to patch up roads wherever it can rather than completely resurfacing them because the budget won't stretch.

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He said: “I have written to the county council portfolio holder to express Ipswich's point of view.

“We would like the settlements to be more because the condition of roads and footways is one of the issues right at the top of people's list of what they expect the council to do effectively and efficiently.

“All we can do is make sure the money we do have goes as far as it possibly can.”

Statistics show that Ipswich has seven per cent of the county's carriageways, 18 per cent of the county's footways and around 17 per cent of the county's population.

Despite this the borough council currently receives 2.8 per cent of the county's total budget for roads.

Guy McGregor, responsible for roads and transport at the Tory-led county council, said times are tight and the borough has enough cash to carry out its statutory obligations as far as roads are concerned.

He said when the Tories came to power in 2005 they “borrowed prudentially” to increase budgets and bring the county's roads up to scratch - however much of this extra cash was targeted at roads identified as being most in need of work, mainly rural routes.

The authority now receives less from the government for the upkeep of former trunk roads such as the A140 and A12 north of Ipswich, he added.

Meanwhile the council has had to tighten its belt on roads spending further in recent years to target funds towards other county council areas such as social care services where there is a “black hole” in terms of cash in relation to demand.

Mr McGregor said: “In terms of the condition of roads of Suffolk, I think they are in a better state than they were six years ago - we have made a big effort on that.

“The money available to Ipswich in terms of road maintenance will allow the borough council to achieve its statutory responsibility and all we can do is be as efficient as possible.”

Could more be done to keep roads up to scratch? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A CASE in point as far as resurfacing work goes is Robin Drive in Chantry, a stretch of residential road some 720 metres long.

Mr West said the council has received a number of complaints from residents about the state of the road but, based on resurfacing cost estimates of £175 per square metre, it would cost a total of £126,000 to completely fix.

This figure is £6,000 more than the borough council's entire budget for capital works on non 'A' roads.

The road has recently undergone a “patching up” as it was considered too expensive to entirely resurface.

Last year's budget for capital work on non 'A' roads was £816,000.

Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the county's Labour party, said there are enough resources to get the job done if town and county chiefs get their act together.

He claims the county council is actually spending more on road maintenance than other counties of a similar size but is just not splashing the cash effectively.

He said: “The county have put in significant amounts of extra spending into capital programmes but it doesn't seem to be having any impact. The quality of the work seems to be getting worse.

“I think there is enough money in the system, they are just not spending it very well.

“They have clearly diverted money from Ipswich to other parts of the county.”

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